Monday, April 9, 2012

Wine pairings vs. ordering one bottle: A brief tale from Coi

My wife and I went to Coi recently to get Daniel Patterson's 12-course pairing menu while it's still only $165, because it seems inevitable that he'll soon enter the price inflation of tasting menus in the Bay Area.

The food was delicate and interesting. I had the $105 wine pairings -- a 1-2 oz. pour with each course -- while my wife, a lightweight, had a glass of Champagne and a glass of Rias Baixas Albarino.

The couple at the next table had one $156 bottle of wine with the entire meal. So our wine price was fairly similar.

There's only one menu at Coi these days. The punchline at the end is what the two different parties drank.

Here are all the wine pairings I had, thanks to sommelier Roland Micu (Some of my names for the dishes are not the same as the restaurant's):

Deconstructed Caesar salad with a garum-seaweed powder tuile
Do Ferierro Rias Baixas Albarino 2010 (same thing my wife drank, good fruit but also minerality)

Oysters on an oyster-juice gel
Andre et Michel Quenard "Les Abymes" Vin de Savoie 2010 (lean, minerally, even salty)

Beets with cocoa, hazelnuts and yogurt
Gerhard Rheingau Riesling Spatlese Feinherb 2009 (Riesling goes with everything)

Flowers and tubers with lardo and bread crumbs
Russiz Superiore Collio Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (my fave wine of the night, skin-fermented for great texture)

Asparagus soup
Brovia Roero Arneis 2010 (very fruit forward for Arneis)

Popcorn with popcorn grits
Sandhi Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2010 (Raj Parr's wine, moderately rich but restrained for the area)

Grilled, chopped abalone with artichokes, black olive and fennel
Clos Cibonne Provence Tibouren Rose 2010 (a fascinating wine, made with "flor" like Sherry. Blind, I would have thought it was a white wine)

Anderson Ranch Lamb two ways: tartare, and grilled over potato-pine needle puree
Chateau Musar Bekaa Valley Lebanon 2000 (drinking well, great length, light body, good complexity)

Fromage blanc tart
Le Tertre du Lys D'Or Sauternes 2005 (Made from d'Yquem's younger vines. Nice.)

Oro blanco (a grapefruit-like citrus fruit) with buttermilk-ginger ice cream and Mexican seaweed
La Montecchia Fior d'Arancio Veneto Moscato 2010 (simple, pretty)

White chocolate pudding with soy milk and kiwi
Royal Tokaji Hungary 5 Puttonyos 2007 (One of the world's best dessert wines. Great finish.)

So that's what I had.

My neighbors had Kosta Browne Pinot Noir. The Cabernet of Pinots. The wine that Wine Spectator hung its shingle out to defend.

Yeah, Wine Spectator! Another diner saved from the peril of obscure wines.

As for me, I'd like to quote Sir Galahad from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Let me go back in there and face the peril."

Follow me on Twitter: @wblakegray and like The Gray Report on Facebook.


Amy Sherman said...

I often choose a bottle of Brut Rose Champagne to pair with tasting menus. It will generally pair with 75-90%+ of the menu. Then I'll add a big red or a dessert wine by the glass.

W. Blake Gray said...

Amy: That's a good way to go, especially because a lot of wine pairings aren't as interesting as Coi's.

c.lawrence said...

Well said...I create wine pairings for a 12 course, 10 cover per evening restaurant in Bangkok. Will send you the "spring" menu if you wish. As the guy who works with the chef to ensure that each compliments the other, I feel, that when fairly priced, a pairing menu is the way to discover...que magnifique!